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Lotus to develop Omnivore Research Engine for bio fuels

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August 18, 2008

The Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel (petrol, ethanol, methanol) was one of Lotus’ first research...

The Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel (petrol, ethanol, methanol) was one of Lotus’ first research steps into understanding the complex combustion process when running on alcohol fuels.

August 19, 2008 World-renowned Lotus Engineering has entered into a collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and Jaguar Cars to develop an engine which maximizes fuel efficiency when running on renewable fuels. The OMNIVORE concept will employ novel engine architecture to achieve a high thermal efficiency when fuelled on any alcohols or gasoline.

The project is sponsored by Defra (Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs) and the DOE NI (Department of the Environment Northern Ireland) through the Renewable Materials LINK Programme. Lotus Engineering is currently undertaking a design study and the build of a single cylinder research engine for completion in January 2009. Vehicle modelling will validate the reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions. Queen’s University of Belfast’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will be adding its world leading expertise in engine simulation, with Jaguar Cars Ltd a consultative partner at all stages of development.

This engine design is expected to significantly increase fuel efficiency for sustainable bio alcohol fuels. The architecture features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection. The OMNIVORE engine will be ideally suited to flex-fuel operation with a higher degree of optimisation than is possible with existing architectures.

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc said: “The automotive industry is now focusing on its environmental obligations to reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiencies and we are seeing the high technology capabilities of Lotus Engineering being in strong demand. Not only does our brand value of ‘performance through light weight’ fit perfectly with the necessary direction of the industry to produce lighter, more efficient vehicles, we are also working on all aspects of future fuels, investigating alternative powertrains to accommodate alcohol fuels as they enter the market.”

Kimberley continues: “Alcohols possess superior combustion characteristics to gasoline which allow greater optimisation. Taking full advantage of the benefits of sustainable bio alcohols will ensure a greater percentage of vehicle miles will be travelled using renewable fuels. We are delighted with the investment from DEFRA which will assist this partnership in taking forward research development and the demonstration of this environmentally conscious transport solution.”

The OMNIVORE programme complements the recently unveiled Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel as part of Lotus’ research to understand the complex combustion process involved in running on mixtures of alcohol fuels and gasoline, which will be important for a successful transition from today’s fuels to the sustainable, synthetic fuels of the future.

Geraint Castleton-White, Head of Powertrain at Lotus Engineering said: “The requirement to operate on gasoline in today’s flex-fuel engines limits their thermal efficiency when operating on alcohol fuels. However, the physical and chemical properties of alcohols, when compared to gasoline, provide the potential for higher thermal efficiency operation to be achieved. This singlecylinder research engine will investigate a highly thermal efficient combustion system that optimises engine performance to fully exploit the properties of both gasoline and alcohol fuels and maximise efficiency.”

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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